Collaboration in California Leads to Promising Raw Milk Legislation

After three years of negotiations between the Small Herd Working Group of small dairies and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), a piece of legislation has been drafted that would allow direct-to-consumer raw milk sales from small farms under certain regulatory requirements.

The raw milk legislation “Home Dairy Farm Bill” (AB 2505) would allow direct-to-consumer raw milk sales by dairies with a maximum of three cows or fifteen goats. Farmers would be required to: ensure annual testing for tuberculosis and brucellosis; adhere to bacterial standards (no more than 15,000 bacteria per ml or 10 coliform bacteria per ml); include a warning label on raw milk stating that unpasteurized milk may contain disease-causing microorganisms; and only sell directly to individuals in face-to-face transactions.

This bill, and the collaborative process behind its creation, is a promising sign that it is possible for farmers and public health officials to work together to find a solution that meets the demand for raw milk and contributes to the economic prosperity of the small, local dairies. Over the past three years, many farmer groups, state organizations and other stakeholders have been involved in the drafting of this legislation.

It is unclear whether the CDFA will officially support the bill once it is up for discussion in the California Assembly’s Agriculture Committee, but members of the Committee have already expressed interest in the bill. It is expected that the legislation would apply to approximately 1,000 home dairies in the state of California.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  http://www.westonaprice.org/lab

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Raw Milk Advocates Respond to Stanford Study that Claims Raw Milk is No Easier for the Lactose Intolerant to Digest

Researchers at Stanford University published findings from a pilot study in the March/April 2014 issue of Annals of Family Medicine that concluded there is little difference in digestibility between pasteurized and unpasteurized milk. These findings contradict anecdotal evidence from raw milk drinkers across the country, and the study is being criticized by raw milk advocates who cite sample size, length of testing and use of controls among the study’s flaws.

The study observed 16 participants who drank three different types of milk (pasteurized milk, raw milk, and soy milk) over the course of 8 days per type. Participants were randomly assigned the order of milk in unmarked containers. Each participant consumed one type of milk over the course of 8 days; they were tested for lactose via a hydrogen breath test on days 1 and 8. After a short break, they repeated the cycle with a different type of milk.

One of the study’s biggest flaws is its small sample size: the study only chose 16 participants after screening 440 applicants who claimed to have problems digesting milk.

Another large flaw is the brevity of the experiment. “It takes longer than eight days for beneficial bacteria to recolonize the gut of a severely lactose intolerant person. These good bacteria produce the lactase enzyme, which helps digest lactose,” says Mark McAfee, Chairman of the Board at the Raw Milk Institute.

Additionally, McAfee suggests that the H2 breath test is insufficient to diagnose milk sugar digestion problems in 97% of applicants. “Most people are not overtly lactose intolerant but are better described as pasteurization intolerant, something for which medical science may not [yet] have an appropriate test,” he says.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  http://www.westonaprice.org/lab

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Maryland’s Proposal to Legalize Raw Milk Sales Delayed to 2015

The Maryland bill that would legalize raw milk sales through cow share agreements has been delayed now that the bill’s chief sponsor, Del. James Hubbard, has withdrawn his support. Hubbard says he withdrew his support for the bill because it became clear that the House Health and Government Operations Committee wouldn’t vote on the issue before adjourning on April 7.

Raw milk advocates plan to reintroduce the bill in 2015, following the publication of a report on raw milk by the Bloomberg School of Public Health at John Hopkins University (expected December 2014). Hubbard expects that the report will prove that raw milk does not pose a significant public health risk, and hopes that the findings will help change perceptions about the “evils” of raw milk and bolster the support that the bill needs to pass.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  http://www.westonaprice.org/lab

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Maine Tries Again to Legalize Raw Milk Sales

Maine raw milk advocates are making another attempt to legalize sales in the state. Last year’s bill to legalize raw milk sales was vetoed by Governor Paul LePage, reportedly out of concern that it would have allowed the sale of dairy products from unlicensed farmers at farmers markets.

This time around, the bill has been amended to include several restrictions: only face-to-face sales are allowed on the farm or from a stand located on farm property; no advertising is allowed other than word-of-mouth marketing; and all products must be labeled with a disclaimer that the farm was not inspected or licensed by the state.

These limitations were key to gaining the support of Ronald Dyer, Quality Assurance and Regulations Director for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, as well as the Maine Dairy Industry Association. However, MDIA Executive Director Julie-Marie Bickford has expressed concern that this year’s bill minimizes the oversight and education that accompanies licensing and inspection, which she believes is critical for food safety.

The bill needs to be approved by the House and the Senate, but it is unclear what might happen when it reaches the Governor’s desk.

Sources: The Bangor Daily News and Food Safety News

Update: On March 31, 2014 the House voted 71-65 in favor of “ought not to pass.” The bill faces more votes in both the House and the Senate.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  http://www.westonaprice.org/lab

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Sneak Attack on Illinois Raw Milk

Show of Opposition Urgently Needed to Stop Attempt to Ban Illinois Raw Milk

The Illinois House of Representatives is considering a ban that will entirely outlaw raw milk for human consumption. Currently, Illinois raw milk sales are allowed if sold directly to consumers on the farm under production regulations. A proposed amendment to HB 4036, which addresses “The Grade A Pasteurized Milk and Milk Products Act,” would remove the clause that allows for on-farm sales of Illinois raw milk.

Section 8 of “Section 5. The Grade A Pasteurized Milk and Milk Products Act” reads: “After the effective date of this Act, no person shall sell or distribute, offer to sell or distribute any milk or milk product for human use or consumption unless such milk or milk product has been pasteurized and has been produced and processed in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the Department.”

The proposed amendment would remove the following clause, “The pasteurization requirement of this Section shall not be applicable to milk produced in accordance with Department rules and regulations if sold or distributed on the premises of the dairy farm.”

The Bill passed out of committee on March 26, 2014. The House is in session and on the floor right now. The Bill is waiting to be called up for another reading and short debate.

If you live in Illinois and oppose the amendment to this Bill, please voice your opposition to the Bill’s Chief Sponsor, Rep. Daniel Burke of Chicago, or one of your other State Legislators ASAP. You can find your representatives’ contact information here or here. Call or email them to share the nutritional and economic benefits of continuing to allow the on-farm sales of raw milk.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation.

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Opinion: Slovenia has US Beat When It Comes to Raw Milk

Rebecca McCray, a writer and Fulbright fellow studying in Ljubljana, sheds light in a recent article about why she believes that Slovenia has the United States beat on how they sell raw milk – especially when it comes to utilizing vending machines to sell off the farm and technology to monitor the quality of their product.

McCray profiles two Slovenian farmers, a husband and wife duo, who run a small, family-owned dairy farm outside the country’s capital and sell raw milk to their community through vending machines. They change the milk in their vending machine daily, and he receives frequent text messages to his phone that alert him if the machine stops working or if the milk’s temperature rises above the temperature that has been designated as safe by the Slovenian Administration for Food Safety. “If this happens,” McCray writes, “the machine automatically stops vending, preventing the sales of unsafe milk.”

Raw milk vending machines is a growing business in Slovenia and its neighboring countries, and McCray can personally attest to the convenience and ease of which they provide fresh, local milk 24 hours per day. McCray first encountered a raw milk vending machine in Ljubljana’s outdoor central market and witnessed others bringing their own reusable bottles to fill with fresh milk from the machine. Since then, she has used these “mlekomats” to purchase the milk that she drinks.

Her portrayal of the system as a consumer and the glimpse she offers into how the farmers utilize technology to aid sales show that there is a real opportunity in the US and other countries to safely sell raw milk to those who want it.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  http://www.westonaprice.org/lab

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Raw Milk Consumers React Surprisingly to Georgia Bill That Would Allow Sales of Raw Milk in Grocery Stores

Proposed Atlanta legislation might allow raw milk to be sold in grocery stores and, though one might think this would be beneficial for local dairy farmers and consumers alike, some residents have expressed concerns that the move “…will force regulations on farmers and compromise the relationships they have with customers.”

Georgia law currently bans the sale of unprocessed milk except for pet consumption yet there are residents who purchase raw milk directly from local farmers, often driving more than half an hour and paying $7-8 per gallon to get it. Some of these consumers say that they intentionally “…bypass grocery stores and buy milk directly from farmers because they like knowing where the milk they’re drinking comes from and that the product is pure.”

These customers are worried that, once allowed in grocery stores, government regulation will change the quality of the products because, as one speculates, “Regulation is always tilted toward big agriculture, not small farms.”

One consumer says that while it would be nice if raw milk was more widely available, she doesn’t want to compromise what is already available to her. And at least one farmer agrees: Daniel Seedorf says, “I do not want to have faceless transactions. Every single one of my customers come here to my farm and meet me face-to-face. The best food is not convenient. It’s a lot of effort, a lot of work, but incredibly rewarding to grow food like this.”

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  http://www.westonaprice.org/lab

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West Virginia Parents Come Together to Show Support for Raw Milk

The West Virginia House of Delegates is considering two bills that would allow the sale of raw milk through herd sharing or otherwise. On February 12, the day that the House Agriculture Committee was scheduled to discuss the bills, a group of farmers and consumers came together as concerned parents to show their support for legalized access to raw milk.

One mother from Cabell County started researching raw milk after some members of her family began struggling with health problems, and was dismayed to realize that in West Virginia the only way she would be able to provide her family with it would be to invest thousands of dollars on a goat herd of her own to milk herself. To show her support for pro-raw milk legislation, she joined together with other parents including Maria and Mike Moles, a husband and wife duo who own a local dairy farm and feed raw milk to their family but are unable to provide others with the same healthy food.

“What [Maria and Mike] can’t consume within their family, they have to feed to animals on the farm, or discard.

‘I passionately believe in providing people with good healthy food and I believe raw milk is a God-given healthy food,’ [Maria] said.”

The debate surrounding raw milk touches on many controversial issues, including consumer freedom. These parents in West Virginia are just a few of the many coming forward to voice their right to provide their families with nutritious foods without government interference.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  http://www.westonaprice.org/lab

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Ontario Agricultural College to Host Raw Milk Symposium April 22

Those in the Ontario region who are interested in learning more about Canada’s policies on raw milk should consider attending the Science to Policy Symposium on Monday, April 22, 2014. This is a raw milk symposium.

Academics, dairy and healthcare professionals, and government representatives who wish to discuss the need for a structured and transparent process to ensure that scientific research and knowledge are used to impact policy are expected to attend the one-day conference. The conference will feature nine presenters on both sides of the issue, including dairy farmer and raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt.

For more information and to register, please click here.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  http://www.westonaprice.org/lab

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Author David Gumpert Analyzes How Stereotypes Play Into Raw Milk War

In a recent post on his blog The Complete Patient, David Gumpert analyzes how perpetuating stereotypes can be prohibitive to productive dialogues while releasing expectations can lead to sincere engagement and discussions. While this premise can be applied to any debate, Gumpert specifically asks if the debate over food rights can move beyond stereotypes – such as the stereotypes of raw milk proponents as antigovernment hippies or public health agents as heartless enforcers of food regulations.

Gumpert cites both positive and negative examples of interactions between raw milk proponents and members of the public health community. He compliments Don Schaffner, a food safety professor at Rutgers University who engaged with Gumpert in the comments thread of one of his blog posts, by saying “I appreciated Schaffner’s comments following my previous post – not so much for anything specific he said, but for the fact that he was willing to sincerely engage, discuss…That he didn’t throw his hands in the air when the discussion frustrated, swear he was done trying to communicate with the wackos here (as some have done in the past).”

However, Gumpert chastised New Yorker writer Dana Goodyear, whose book includes anecdotes about attending raw food events that portray people who eat raw food in a stereotypical, derogatory manner. In one example, Goodyear writes, “The raw-milkers claimed to be on board with everything, from putting a stop to roadside sobriety tests to ending seatbelt laws.” Gumpert responds, “The imagery was clear: the raw milk supporters attending the conference were a bunch of libertarian antigovernment nut cases. I was at that conference…and heard little discussion about the politics of ‘the antigovernment extremists.’”

Gumpert ends his post on an optimistic note: with the hope that individuals on both sides of the raw milk issue will begin to see past stereotypes and engage in productive discussions.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  http://www.westonaprice.org/lab

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